A new study done by Honest Paws found that puppy scams increased by over 280% during the pandemic. With an increase in puppy adoptions during COVID-19 and for those looking to purchase a pup as a gift during the holidays, being aware of common scams is important.
Honest Paws also looked at the top 15 states you’re most likely to get scammed, and North Carolina ranked as the 3rd in the nation – losing an average of $791 due to puppy scams. The most popular app those in NC lost their money on in the scam was on Zelle.
Honest Paws spoke to three victims of puppy scams, and common red flags included:
1. The seller claims that due to social distancing regulations, you will not be able to see the animal in person before adoption and/or is unable to provide you with multiple pictures/videos of the puppy up for adoption.
2. When performing an internet search of a picture of the puppy you’re considering, you notice the same picture appears on multiple websites or in Facebook groups. You can use Google’s helpful ‘reverse image’ tool to find instances where the picture is being used elsewhere on the internet.
3. When performing an internet search for the text from ads or testimonials on a breeder’s website or ad, you notice they’ve been copied from other websites.
4. The breeder’s website offers no information about the sire or dam of the litter and/or is unable to provide proof of health records or AKC Certification.
5. The seller asks for payment up front through Western Union, MoneyGram, a digital money app like Zelle or CashApp, or via a gift card.
6. In the case of purebred breeds, the puppy in question is being offered at a significantly steep discount when compared with the average price for a puppy of its breed.
7. The seller or a third party asks for payment to cover additional items such as a climate-controlled crate for shipping, vaccinations, or transportation insurance/life insurance. In many cases, fraudulent emails will claim the shipping costs/crate rental feels will be refunded upon the puppy’s delivery. However, they never are.
8. The adoption contract contains multiple spelling or grammatical errors.